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Dozens gather on Utah Capitol steps to honor homicide victims

Families and advocates gathered on the Capitol steps to honor victims of homicide in the state of Utah on Saturday. (Adam Soleto, KSL-TV)

Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

SALT LAKE CITY — More than 100 people were murdered in Utah last year, which is a record in the state.

On Saturday night, loved ones and advocates gathered on the Capitol steps to honor them.

They come from all walks of life, but they share the same grief — they've lost a loved one to homicide.

Darcie Housley's son, Brian Housley, was killed in a drive-by shooting nearly four years ago.

"We'll never get over it, the loss of our families," said Darcie Housley.

It's why they came together on Saturday, the National Day of Remembrance for Homicide Victims.

"In Utah, we had triple digit homicides for the first time in 2020.We have never gotten that high before," said Brandon Merrill, executive director of the non-profit, Utah Homicide Survivors.

A vigil was held to honor all the homicide victims in the past year.
A vigil was held to honor all the homicide victims in the past year. (Photo: Adam Soleto, KSL-TV)

Sadly, Merrill said this is a growing club, with 103 people murdered in 2020.

"Domestic violence homicides are the top cause of homicides within the state of Utah, and we are higher than the national average. Our national average is about 25% that's domestic violence-related and we are about 45%," he said.

While Merrill said COVID-19 didn't necessarily impact the murder rate, it certainly delayed justice, as trial dates and court cases were pushed back.

For example, in Kay Lynn Stafford's case, the suspect in her son's murder was released during COVID-19 and his trial was delayed until next summer.

Then, there's cases like Housley's, where police have yet to make an arrest.

"There's been no justice yet, and it just seems like he's been forgotten," said Housley. "His case is considered cold in Ogden, Utah."

But regardless of where everyone is on the path to justice, this is where they've found a space of healing.

"Everybody has something to deal with in their lives, but this is a horrendous trauma that you can't even imagine," said Housley.

The Utah Homicide Survivors non-profit has been around for three years.

They focus on helping victim family members for the long road ahead, with legal and mental health services.

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